Calvin Mercer, PhD
Calvin Mercer's seven books and 25 articles are in religion and culture, with emphasis in the past decade on the religious and social implications of radical human enhancement technology. He is co-editor, with Steve Fuller, of Palgrave Studies in the Future of Humanity and Its Successors. He was the founding chair of the American Academy of Religion's “Transhumanism and Religion” Group at the Annual Meeting. Dr. Mercer is also trained in clinical psychology, practiced professionally part-time for about a decade, and has utilized insights from this discipline in his published work on religion. Representative recent publications include Slaves to Faith: A Therapist Looks Inside the Fundamentalist Mind; Religion and Transhumanism, The Unknown Future of Human Enhancement (co-edited with Tracy Trothen), Transhumanism and the Body: The World’s Religions Speak (co-edited with Derek Maher), and Religion and the Implications of Radical Life Extension (co-edited with Derek Maher). He frequently gives public lectures on religion and human enhancement technology, and his psychological interpretation of fundamentalism.
How would you like to live for 500 years—or longer? Dr. Mercer is one of the few scholars considering the religious and social implications of mental, emotional, and physical enhancements, such as radical life extension, a term that refers to technology that could provide extreme (perhaps indefinite) longevity of healthy human life. Dr. Mercer is co-editor, with Steve Fuller, of Palgrave Studies in the Future of Humanity and Its Successors. He was the founding chair of the American Academy of Religion's “Transhumanism and Religion” Group at the Annual Meeting. Representative publications on this topic include: Religion and Transhumanism—The Unknown Future of Human Enhancement (co-edited with Tracy Trothen), Transhumanism and the Body—The World’s Religions Speak (co-edited with Derek Maher), Religion and the Implications of Radical Life Extension (co-edited with Derek Maher), and Embracing the Transhuman? Religion and Human Enhancement (in process, co-edited with Tracie Trothen). He frequently gives public lectures on religion and radical human enhancement technology, especially extreme longevity.
Dr. Mercer is trained in clinical psychology and practiced professionally part-time for over a decade. He was known as the "go-to" therapist for clients where religion was a factor in their mental distress and/or behavioral dysfunction. In both his teaching and clinical practice, he has worked extensively with fundamentalists. Dr. Mercer gives public lectures on this topic based on his book, Slaves to Faith: A Therapist Looks Inside the Fundamentalist Mind. With a foreword by Martin Marty, the book provides a novel—and controversial—psychological analysis of fundamentalism. Although the book is focused on Christian fundamentalism, the insights are valuable for understanding extreme religion in all traditions and especially so in our post 9/11 climate.
Dr. Mercer is the originator of The Monastic Project, a comprehensive program used by professors around the country that speaks to a deep yearning many people have for substantive religious experience that goes deeper, offers more, and requires more than either fundamentalism or the easy, quick, sensual froth offered up by much contemporary religion. The Monastic Project, with guidelines drawn from various monastic traditions, yields results transformative beyond religious experience, such as improved mental and physical health, clarification of life goals and purpose, improved relationships, increased awareness, and better sleep. The Project has been reviewed in Teaching Theology and Religion (April 2009) and is recommended by Matthew Fox. Dr. Mercer has provided on-campus and other consultations about The Monastic Project to theological and religious studies faculty.
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